Deification...

Does the Eastern Catholic Church share the Orthodox concept of deification, or do they use the Western theology of mortification? Just wondering....

[quote="josephback, post:1, topic:237857"]
Does the Eastern Catholic Church share the Orthodox concept of deification, or do they use the Western theology of mortification? Just wondering....

[/quote]

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the ECC shares with Orthodoxy the concept of deification/theosis. It is, after all, as far as I'm aware, an eastern Christian concept.

Deification is also very much a Western concept (though with a different emphasis)…so I’m not sure what the OP means by “deification vs mortification”. The idea that we are to share in the divine nature of Christ is very prominent in the Roman liturgy…as the priest says at every OF mass “May we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.” In both the West and East, Christ humbled himself in order to raise mankind to eternal glory, sharing in the divine life of the Trinity. In the West we are often reminded in the liturgy of the hours that humanity, in the person of Christ, already sits in eternal divine glory at the right hand of the Father, who, in dying, destroyed our death, and in rising, restored our life (again, as we say at mass). It has always bugged me that many see deification as a distinctly Eastern concept. I was at one mass where a Latin priest was so bold as to say in his homily “you are gods” and then went on to explain the teaching of deification without any reference to the East or Eastern theology…it is very much present in St. Thomas Aquinas without a doubt. (It was, appropriately, a Dominican priest who declared to the congregation “you are gods”)

CCC 460:

The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature”:78 "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God."79 "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God."80 "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods."81
78 2 Pt 1:4.
79 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 19, 1: PG 7/1, 939.
80 St. Athanasius, De inc. 54, 3: PG 25, 192B.
81 St. Thomas Aquinas, Opusc. 57, 1-4.

Of course, it must be emphasized that we will never truly BECOME God in the literal sense…we are and always will remain his creatures, while the three persons of the Blessed Trinity are the Creator. Our future glory, and the glory which Our Blessed Lady and the saints now enjoy, is totally DEPENDENT upon the glory of Christ…we will always remain finite beings and are given only a share of the divine life so as to enter into profound communion with God. In the East, it is emphasized that the process of deification is ongoing and eternal, with the saints in heaven ever approaching, but never reaching (as finite beings) the Divinity.

[quote="twf, post:3, topic:237857"]
Deification is also very much a Western concept (though with a different emphasis)...so I'm not sure what the OP means by "deification vs mortification". The idea that we are to share in the divine nature of Christ is very prominent in the Roman liturgy...as the priest says at every OF mass "May we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity." In both the West and East, Christ humbled himself in order to raise mankind to eternal glory, sharing in the divine life of the Trinity. In the West we are often reminded in the liturgy of the hours that humanity, in the person of Christ, already sits in eternal divine glory at the right hand of the Father, who, in dying, destroyed our death, and in rising, restored our life (again, as we say at mass). It has always bugged me that many see deification as a distinctly Eastern concept. I was at one mass where a Latin priest was so bold as to say in his homily "you are gods" and then went on to explain the teaching of deification without any reference to the East or Eastern theology...it is very much present in St. Thomas Aquinas without a doubt. (It was, appropriately, a Dominican priest who declared to the congregation "you are gods")

CCC 460:

Of course, it must be emphasized that we will never truly BECOME God in the literal sense...we are and always will remain his creatures, while the three persons of the Blessed Trinity are the Creator. Our future glory, and the glory which Our Blessed Lady and the saints now enjoy, is totally DEPENDENT upon the glory of Christ...we will always remain finite beings and are given only a share of the divine life so as to enter into profound communion with God. In the East, it is emphasized that the process of deification is ongoing and eternal, with the saints in heaven ever approaching, but never reaching (as finite beings) the Divinity.

[/quote]

I thank you for correcting and educating me about deification also being part of "western" theology!

Hi. I probably should have said “atonement theolgy”. Deification is Mortification is Sanctification, but we all use different words to describe it. I guess that’s what I was getting at. Does the East explain things the same way as the Orthodox? Thanks for your replies.

THANK YOU!! :thumbsup:

[quote="josephback, post:5, topic:237857"]
Hi. I probably should have said "atonement theolgy". Deification is Mortification is Sanctification, but we all use different words to describe it. I guess that's what I was getting at. Does the East explain things the same way as the Orthodox? Thanks for your replies.

[/quote]

Yes, we are created in the image and likeness of God and thus may become god but not God.

The Christian understanding of divinisation, or theosis, comes about through our efforts with the assistance of God's grace working in and through us.

Saint Irenaeus said:

"Jesus Christ, who did, through His transcendent love, become what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself”. (Adversus Haereses)
Saint Paul described his deification:

"It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal 2:20)
Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 1988:
Through the power of the Holy Spirit we take part in Christ's Passion by dying to sin, and in his Resurrection by being born to a new life; we are members of his Body which is the Church, branches grafted onto the vine which is himself: (Cf. 1 Cor 12; Jn 15:1-4.)
[INDENT][God] gave himself to us through his Spirit. By the participation of the Spirit, we become communicants in the divine nature. . . . For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are divinized. (St. Athanasius, Ep. Serap. 1,24:PG 26,585 and 588.)
[/INDENT]

Totally agree with everything You have posted and share your same frustrations…Do you think Theosis gets enough attention in the western church? Or is it that different aspects of it are highlighted?

[quote="josephback, post:5, topic:237857"]
Hi. I probably should have said "atonement theolgy". Deification is Mortification is Sanctification, but we all use different words to describe it. I guess that's what I was getting at. Does the East explain things the same way as the Orthodox? Thanks for your replies.

[/quote]

Deification = being made God
Mortification = being put to death
Sanctification = being made holy (set apart)
justification = being made conformable to law (righteous)

I think the emphasis in the Western part of the Church was justification, as opposed the emphasis in the Eastern part of the Church was deification.

It was St Athanasius who said,"God became man that man may become God".

It was St Paul who said, "He was made sin for us who knew no sin that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him"

The emphasis in the West is on the Beatific Vision of God. Theosis is not a concept that one can find in the Catechism (please correct me if I'm wrong) and, in any event, the West sees this much differently than the East.

Theosis allows us to participate in the Divine Energies of God and it is only in this way that we may participate in the Life of God. We cannot participate in God's Divine Essence (for then, we truly would become God), nor in His Three Hypostases (for the same reason), but we can participate in His Divine Energies, as Palamism and Orthodox teaching explicate.

These Energies transfigure us by way of deification which impact is described in iconography where the halo of the Saints surrounds their actual heads/bodies which resemble the icon of Christ. This exists in the West, but in earlier Western iconography rather than the later Baroque style pictures where only the Humanity of Christ is depicted without much iconographic indication as to His Divinity - the same is true for later Western art of the Saints.

The West tends to emphasize the Humanity of Christ, truly having "humbled Himself to share in our humanity," His Passion and suffering etc.

The East does emphasize the Divinity of Christ and His deified Humanity. "Whoever sees Me, sees the Father" etc.

We are called not only to reconciliation with God through Christ by the Spirit, but to fulfill our destiny as Christians to deification/Theosis in Christ.

(This morning I saw a fellow driving with a licence plate that said, "THEOSIS." :) )

Alex

[quote="Celticnovice, post:8, topic:237857"]
Totally agree with everything You have posted and share your same frustrations...Do you think Theosis gets enough attention in the western church? Or is it that different aspects of it are highlighted?

[/quote]

I think that it is given more than enough attention in the liturgy, but I would admit that I would like to hear more homilies on it...I think that many average Joe Latins are vaguely aware of the concept, but wouldn't be able to articulate it. That being said, while there is the Laitn tradition of explicitly stating that "we are gods", the emphasis tends to be more on our divine sonship as adopted children of God and co-heirs of Christ. In this sense, you more often hear Latin Catholics speaking of us becoming 'sons of God' rather than 'becoming God" (though both concepts speak to the same truth).

[quote="Alexander_Roman, post:10, topic:237857"]
The emphasis in the West is on the Beatific Vision of God. Theosis is not a concept that one can find in the Catechism (please correct me if I'm wrong) and, in any event, the West sees this much differently than the East.

Theosis allows us to participate in the Divine Energies of God and it is only in this way that we may participate in the Life of God. We cannot participate in God's Divine Essence (for then, we truly would become God), nor in His Three Hypostases (for the same reason), but we can participate in His Divine Energies, as Palamism and Orthodox teaching explicate.

These Energies transfigure us by way of deification which impact is described in iconography where the halo of the Saints surrounds their actual heads/bodies which resemble the icon of Christ. This exists in the West, but in earlier Western iconography rather than the later Baroque style pictures where only the Humanity of Christ is depicted without much iconographic indication as to His Divinity - the same is true for later Western art of the Saints.

The West tends to emphasize the Humanity of Christ, truly having "humbled Himself to share in our humanity," His Passion and suffering etc.

The East does emphasize the Divinity of Christ and His deified Humanity. "Whoever sees Me, sees the Father" etc.

We are called not only to reconciliation with God through Christ by the Spirit, but to fulfill our destiny as Christians to deification/Theosis in Christ.

(This morning I saw a fellow driving with a licence plate that said, "THEOSIS." :) )

Alex

[/quote]

Nicely put.

"According to the divine Maximos, the Logos of well-being, by grace is present unto the worthy, bearing God, Who is by nature above all beginning and end, Who makes those who by nature have a beginning and an end become by grace without beginning and without end, because the Great Paul also, no longer living the life in time, but the divine and eternal life of the indwelling Logos, became by grace without beginning and without end; and Melchisedek had neither beginning of days, nor end of life, not because of his created nature, according to which he began and ceased to exist, but because of the divine and uncreated and eternal grace which is above all nature and time, being from the eternal God. Paul, therefore, was created only as long as he lived the life created from non-being by the command of God. But when he no longer lived this life, but that which is present by the indwelling of God, he became uncreated by grace, as did also Melchisedek and everyone who comes to possess the Logos of God, alone living and acting within himself."

  • St. Gregory Palamas, Third Letter to Akindynos

[quote="twf, post:3, topic:237857"]
Of course, it must be emphasized that we will never truly BECOME God in the literal sense...we are and always will remain his creatures, while the three persons of the Blessed Trinity are the Creator. Our future glory, and the glory which Our Blessed Lady and the saints now enjoy, is totally DEPENDENT upon the glory of Christ...we will always remain finite beings and are given only a share of the divine life so as to enter into profound communion with God. In the East, it is emphasized that the process of deification is ongoing and eternal, with the saints in heaven ever approaching, but never reaching (as finite beings) the Divinity.

[/quote]

All of this is true, but in the East we do sometimes speak of "becoming God", meaning of course everything that you just said. Elder Aemilianos of Simonopetra on the Holy Mountain (Mount Athos) once gave counsel to a monk who was under his charge and was asking him for help. The monk asked what to do beyond the rote repetition of the prayers in his rule (or a question of a similar nature). "Ah", Elder Aemilianos said, "you must become God."

It should also be clarified that in the East "divinity" is viewed as the energy of God, not the unapproachable Essence. Divinity is the life shared by God and communicated among the Three Persons of the Trinity, and also shared to us through grace. To use the Eastern terminology with perfect consistency, instead of saying that we never reach the Divinity (anyone in the state of sanctifying grace has been transformed by divinity), we should say that we never reach the Essence of God.

Alexander Roman:
It may be understood differently in the West than in the East, but we certainly do employ, in Latin theology, the term deification, which linguistically is equivalent to theosis. As I said in my earlier post, Latin theology (St. Thomas Aquinas among others) speak of us becoming gods, to emphasize the fact that our sharing in the divine nature does not literally render us God Almighty, but, that being said, the Catechism of the Catholic Church does in fact quote St. Athanasius' famous "...so that we might become God."

Deification is also very much a Western concept (though with a different emphasis)...so I'm not sure what the OP means by "deification vs mortification". The idea that we are to share in the divine nature of Christ is very prominent in the Roman liturgy...as the priest says at every OF mass "May we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity." In both the West and East, Christ humbled himself in order to raise mankind to eternal glory, sharing in the divine life of the Trinity. In the West we are often reminded in the liturgy of the hours that humanity, in the person of Christ, already sits in eternal divine glory at the right hand of the Father, who, in dying, destroyed our death, and in rising, restored our life (again, as we say at mass). It has always bugged me that many see deification as a distinctly Eastern concept. I was at one mass where a Latin priest was so bold as to say in his homily "you are gods" and then went on to explain the teaching of deification without any reference to the East or Eastern theology...it is very much present in St. Thomas Aquinas without a doubt. (It was, appropriately, a Dominican priest who declared to the congregation "you are gods")

CCC 460:

The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine nature":78 "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God."79 *"For the Son of God became man so that we might become God."***80 "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods."81
78 2 Pt 1:4.
79 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 19, 1: PG 7/1, 939.
80 St. Athanasius, De inc. 54, 3: PG 25, 192B.
81 St. Thomas Aquinas, Opusc. 57, 1-4.
[Emphasis added]

[Continued]
Petrarch, the great father of the Italian Renaissance, addresses the Blessed Mother as goddess in his famous canzone to the Blessed Virgin. While I wouldn't recommend referring to the Mother of God as the goddess on a regular basis (as it would easily lead to confusion among the faithful and non-Catholics alike), it is, from a Latin perspective, theologically correct...for we are all made gods through baptism when we "put on Christ". The emphasis in the West is more that we are incorporated into the divine sonship of Christ and thus it is more common for Latins to use the phrase "becoming sons of God" rather than "becoming gods" or "becoming God", but all three phrases express the same truth.

When I was brought into communion with the Catholic Church in the Roman Rite after having been raised Lutheran the priest that catechized me was very clear on the difference between Catholicism and Lutheranism is the latter's doctrine of forensic justification as opposed to the Catholic Church's teaching that we are capax Dei - capable of God.

This priest was also about as orthodox as one could get, and about as authentically and thoroughly Roman as one could get.

[quote="twf, post:16, topic:237857"]
[Continued]
Petrarch, the great father of the Italian Renaissance, addresses the Blessed Mother as goddess in his famous canzone to the Blessed Virgin. While I wouldn't recommend referring to the Mother of God as the goddess on a regular basis (as it would easily lead to confusion among the faithful and non-Catholics alike), it is, from a Latin perspective, theologically correct...for we are all made gods through baptism when we "put on Christ". The emphasis in the West is more that we are incorporated into the divine sonship of Christ and thus it is more common for Latins to use the phrase "becoming sons of God" rather than "becoming gods" or "becoming God", but all three phrases express the same truth.

[/quote]

That probably had more to do with the Italian Renaissance infatuation with the classics (and classical paganism) than with theosis. I don't know how much of an influence this was, but his Greek tutor was Barlaam of Calabria, anathematized as a heretic by the East for his denial of theosis and of the essence/energies distinction.

It is not difficult to differentiate when we realize that there is only one Creator and many creatures, and no creature can become the Creator.

In the book The Faith Explained (Leo J. Trese) three words are used which explain the differences in capabilities: supernatural, preternatural, and natural.

Supernatural: completely above the nature of a creature.
Preternatural: outside of or beyond the usual course of nature.

Adam and Eve had preternatural gifts: wisdom, strength of will, control of passions, freedom from suffering and death. Also Adam and Eve received the spernatural gift of sanctifying grace.

Due to the original sin, both supernatural and preternatural gifts were lost. Mankind is now born without either, but may still have the gift of supernatural sanctifying grace; but Mankind does not have the preternatural gifts of Adam and Eve in this life.

The CCC: (paragraph 1691)

"Christian, recognize your dignity and, now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return to your former base condition by sinning. Remember who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Never forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God."1

St. Leo the Great, Sermo 21 in nat. Dom., 3: PL 54, 192C.

Twf, I wanted to post this to go along with your post from the CCC. Yes, this concept surrounds us, however, I would like to hear more about it in homilies too…

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